Whitman-Walker Health Praises Community Progress in DC's Fight Against HIV
Sustained, Science-Based Action Needed to Reach Ultimate Goals
Washington, DC – Whitman-Walker Health today commended the District of Columbia government and our community partners for progress in the city’s fight against the HIV epidemic but emphasized that much more work is needed to declare victory.
“This progress is most welcome, but now is not the time take a summer vacation in the fight against HIV,” said WWH Executive Director Don Blanchon. “While it will take time to bring this epidemic under control, we are very pleased to see that the city has made tremendous progress over the last few years. However, that progress can be lost if we don’t continue with sustained, science-based community action. This is no time to rest on our past accomplishments when hundreds of DC residents are still contracting HIV every year.”
“In 2010, DC reported 835 new cases of HIV and 207 deaths from AIDS,” said Blanchon. “Our work will not be done until these numbers are zero”
“Seven in 10 DC residents diagnosed with HIV have a high level of HIV in their blood, often due to not being on HIV medications, which means they can more easily infect other people,” said Dr. Raymond Martins, Chief Medical Officer at Whitman-Walker Health. “Great progress has been made towards getting people with HIV into care earlier, thanks to the Red Carpet program that Whitman-Walker pioneered. However, we have a long way to go to reach the ultimate goal of having every HIV-positive resident on medications to maintain their health and prevent transmission.”
“Whitman-Walker has had tremendous success with both Red Carpet and our Medical Adherence unit in keeping our HIV-positive patients’ viral load suppressed,” said Martins. “In fact, 80 percent of our HIV patients on antiretroviral medications in 2011 had a suppressed viral load. Whitman-Walker cares for nearly one-sixth of the more than 14,000 people living with HIV in DC. It can be done. We have to do the work citywide to make it happen.”
“DC has made great gains in the fight against a modern epidemic in the last few years,” said Blanchon. “We can and must continue those gains until we bring the epidemic to a final end.”
Established in 1978, Whitman-Walker Health is a non-profit community health center located in Washington, DC. Our mission is to be the highest quality, culturally competent community health center serving greater Washington’s diverse urban community, including individuals who face barriers to accessing care, and with a special expertise in LGBT and HIV care. Whitman-Walker Health offers primary medical and dental care; mental health and addictions counseling and treatment; HIV education, prevention, and testing; legal services; and medical adherence care management. We are especially committed to meeting the health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and people living with HIV/AIDS.